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A 120-year-old Tradition Visits the California Delta Roads

Friday, September 16, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rick Klain, 22237

The first commercially built gasoline-powered motorcycles began appearing in the 1890s. When enough of these became available, a sense of community quickly evolved, and people began riding together. One of the first large group rides was in 1911 with “Motorcycle Day in Livermore,” as commemorated with a 100th anniversary event ride and article appearing in the March 2012 issue of Owners News.

Calmoto is a northern California BMW motorcycle dealership with two locations, Mountain View and Livermore. On the first Sunday of each month, there’s a shop ride to interesting places over great roads around the San Francisco Bay Area. Calmoto Mountain View opened in 1981. Shortly after that, founding owner Kari Prager started leading customers and friends on informal shop rides. Michael Meissner, now owner and general manager, joined in 2000 and became the sole owner when Kari passed away in 2010. Today the shop rides are more organized, shorter and more street than adventure oriented, with email alerts, info links and online Google Maps with routes.


The California Delta is one of those places with great roads. It’s been around for 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. It was a freshwater marsh which by the mid-1800s became a rich agricultural region. Increasing human activity and nature’s response put much of this land below sea level. Levees were built to try and fix that, followed by the water wars, and much of the fresh water became repurposed for irrigation, as well as providing a municipal water supply for southern California. Commerce required roads on top of these levees, along with bridges and ferries. Perfect motorcycle country!

This year’s ride on April 3, 2016, started at Calmoto in Mountain View, with 16 riders showing up. Another 21 riders joined the procession at Calmoto in Livermore. From there we rode just under 100 miles, stopping in Locke and crossing over levees on two ferries, the J-Mack and the CA-84 S, and four bridges, ending the ride at Foster’s Bighorn in Rio Vista for a late lunch.

The town of Locke, originally known as Lockeport, began in 1912 when three Chinese merchants each raised buildings on land owned by the Locke family. The town grew and shrank and had a very colorful history, often distorted by the passage of time, memory and emotion.


As amazing as Locke was and is, Foster’s Bighorn (not to be confused with Foster’s Freeze) is very interesting in its own way. The original proprietor, Bill Foster, retired from big game hunting in 1953, went to work in his bar, and passed on in 1963; many of his trophies adorn the walls of the restaurant. Bill considered himself a conservationist, and he started finding his big game muse when he apprenticed for a man who was one of the first African hunters to bring movies of wildlife to the U.S. in 1918.

If you want to have new adventures, take advantage of 120 years of experience and ride with a friend, group or community that knows of interesting places to ride and visit. Check with local motorcycle dealers and clubs or social media resources like Meetup or Facebook.

For more information about the places mentioned above, point your web browser to

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